Monday, May 10, 2010


Nana’s name is Mary, like Hail Mary, full of grace. Nana’s name is Mary, like Holy Mary, mother of God. Nana is in a nursing home. An ugly scary nursing home. They serve roast beef with lettuce and slimy orange stuff on the side. Nana has been old and unhappy for as long as I can remember.

Nana is old like yellow newspapers, like stained clothes. Nana is always in pain. She complains about her eyes, her ears, her hips. Nana finally got a hearing aid and now she doesn’t yell “HUH?” as much as she used to. Nana knows me. She never forgets me. She remembers what I told her on the last visit and the visit before that. She’s been telling me on every visit for the last 20 years that she will be dead by the next time I visit. But she never dies. She just gets older and older. Like old churches. Like cheese.

Nana says “Don’t get old, Gabe. Don’t get old.” Nana says, “Don’t get old, Gabe. Don’t get old.” She’s outlived nearly everyone she knows – her parents, her husband, three sisters, a daughter, a granddaughter.

Nana is old like the rocks jetting out into the ocean, life crashing against them for years, wearing away a little bit of rock at a time, but never taking the whole thing.

Nana used to go to novenas with her sisters. She used to go to novena all the time and pray for 9 days or more. I don’t know what she was praying for. She never told me.

Nana is old like the period at the end of the sentence of my life. Is that what I will become? Is nana me in the future?

Nana has a great laugh. Her laugh makes me laugh. Nana keeps her room very clean and she likes pink towels.

Nana has pictures on the bookcase, the TV, the refrigerator. Pictures of me, Lee, mom, Carli and others.

Nana doesn’t tell stories about the past like other grandmothers. She just says, “I miss your mom. I miss your mom” with tears in her eyes.

Nana watches lots of TV, mostly game shows. She sits with her friends in the lobby of the nursing home gossiping a little, complaining a little, laughing a little.
All the ladies eat the meatloaf and the lettuce and the slimy orange stuff.

Nana has pictures of Jesus, the crucifix and rosary beads in her room. I know Nana prays but I don’t know what she prays for.

I think Nana is 88. I don’t remember. I lost track. All the years above me seem to blend together. I can’t much tell 50 from 60 from 70 from 80. It’s all a mirage of the future. My future self. My future life.

My past is much more distinct, like crispy crackers, like brail. I can read every line of each year. Remember each feeling and touch the texture. The past is like sandpaper, the future like steam.

Some say you can create your future. Is that true? Did Nana create nursing home, novenas, no siblings, no significant other? If she knew, if she chose it, why does she say: “Don’t get old, Gabe. Don’t get old.”

Nana’s name is Mary like Hail Mary, full of grace. Nana’s name is Mary like Holy Mary, Mother of God.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Healer

I am in my mother’s body. Her big pink belly. I look down at myself through my mother’s eyes. I feel the warm pink belly between her hands like a taut balloon. I hold the belly, the belly I am in and not in. I feel my mother’s joy. I am her and she is me. I am inside her. The warm tight pink belly is full with a magical crystalline fluid and although I know I grow in there, I prefer much more to float up into my mother’s eyes, her arms, her heart. I can move freely inside of her for the time being, unrestricted, unconfined. I move with her as she moves but I don’t feel the moving. I only feel the bright warm weightless space inside. I know she knows I’m in here. I know she feels me. I know we know each other. I know we know each other in the most intimate connected way that two people can know each other. I know we exist in a space timeless limitless boundless. I know we share a space that is beyond the physical space, a space I have not yet entered through her. I know she feels the space inside her that we share, where we meet. Where I am her and she is me. I know we are inside of each other.

There are miles of paper dolls connected hand to hand, feet to feet, stretched out like an infinity mirror, forward in time, back in time. They are all the expressions of me, of who I am, of who I was, of who I am becoming. I slide along the paper doll continuum, moving in and out of the various versions of myself, slipping easily into the 5 year old, 15 years old, 20 year old versions of myself. Energy like the tail of a comet moves back and forth along the continuum of me. I slide forward into the future me, feeling the full rush of energy between all the versions of me, connecting them, linking them, as one continuous part of me. It’s as if I am nothing but a streak of light across the sky, a sun beam, a shooting star.

My future self infuses my current self and makes sense of my past self. All of it condensed into a single story line, a single streak of light. I look forward and back at reflections of me, of who I was, of who I am becoming and there is growth and there is change, but mostly there is just still movement, a movement that is not moving. Mostly it’s just like the space I inhabit inside my mother when she is pregnant with me.

So then she pushes me out into the world. Outside of her. Into the world. I can no longer move freely, no longer inhabit her eyes, her hands, her heart. I have my own eyes and hands and heart now. I’m not sure how they work. Don’t really like to move them. It’s all so heavy and cumbersome and stiff. It hurts to move in this way. It pains me to breathe, to turn my head, to open and clench my fist. She pushed me out of her. She pushed me out of her into the world.

I draw down a heavy blanket of numbness to cover up the feeling. I wrap around me a cloak of dull feeling. There is burning inside but the outside is covered like the colorful plastic covers surrounding electric wires. I am covered. I am separate.

And then I am lying on my back on an air mattress in the tower of my house, somewhere between 16 and 17 years later. I am warm and tingling from the rum swimming inside of me. I am lying on my back and he pushes himself inside of me and we are no longer two people. We are one person. I am inside of him and he is inside of me. I can move freely again. I can leave myself and go inside of him. I can feel his heart as if it is my own. I can see with his eyes, feel with his hands. I am connected. I am part of someone again. I am connected to someone in the most intimate connected way again.

And then I am aware. I am aware that I can go inside of you. I can go inside any of you and see what you are seeing, feel what you are feeling, think what you are thinking. I can feel your blood and flesh as my own. But mostly I can connect to you in the most intimate and connected way that two people can connect.

And then she dies. Like a balloon popping, mom dies and all that’s left is the air. All that’s left is the limitless space, the still movement, the vast emptiness where we are both existing in the tail of the comet, the heat of the sunbeam, the sparkle of the shooting star. I am no longer inside of her but somehow we are in the same space again. And she’s not inside of me but somehow we are in the same space. Am I am physical and she is not physical but somehow we are in the same space.

And then I begin touching people. I touch them and try to heal them. And they say they feel warmth in my hands. They call me a healer. They say ‘thank you for healing me.’ They bring me flowers. They send me notes. They say, ‘how do you do that?’ And what can I say? How could I possibly explain? Well you see…

First I was inside her and I could feel her and she could feel me and we were in this space like a private space, that space that connects all of us, and then she pushed me out into the world and I was cast out of the space and I couldn’t get back to the space, and then he was inside of me and I felt the space again and then she died and the space expanded and she became everything, and then I knew if I put my hands on people that I could go back to the space. And you see, this is how I ended up here with you, in your eyes, in your hands, in your heart, knowing what you need, how you feel, who you are. This is how I know you. Can you understand that?

I drop down into my hands. I dissolve into light. I travel out of my hands into you, like the breath, slipping in undetected. I close my eyes, I find the space that is you inside of you. The breath inside the breath. I move easily and freely. I know who you are. You cover your face, embarrassed. How can she see so much? How can she know so much? How does she do it? You say, “You know how to touch me.”

I know that I know how to touch you. It’s what I know. It’s who I am. I would not be me if I didn’t know how to touch you. I feel you, ya know.

People say that: “I feel ya.” What they mean to say is, “I’ve felt what you’ve felt at one time. I know how you feel.”

But I mean it differently. I feel you. I feel you as real as I felt myself through my mother’s hands as she touched her big warm pink belly. I feel what you feel.

We’ve been inside each other all along.

Pink Diary

I have a pink diary with a gold lock. The lock isn’t very sturdy and it’s easy to open the lock without using the key. The key is very small like a key that Alice in Wonderland would use to open a very small door. The cover of my diary is kind of like a door. It takes me away from this house, this room, this life and into a different one. In my diary, I am writing my life instead of my life writing me. In my diary, I tell the story instead of listening to the story being told. In my diary, I am the author, the writer, the creator. In my diary, I can write whatever I want. I can write good words, bad words, soft words, hard words, they are my words. I don’t need permission to write them. No one is checking my grammar or spelling. No one checks for mistakes. There are no mistakes. I can say whatever I want and its mine. It belongs to no one else. Sometimes when I feel like hurting myself or someone else I write in my diary instead. Sometimes when I am sad, I write that too. Once during a scary storm, I wrote a poem but I don’t write poems much.

The cover of my diary is pink and squooshy like a plastic pillow. I like the texture. It’s shiny. I keep my diary on my nightstand next to my little prayer books. I like to write with my favorite pen – a black skinny stem with a fluffy fuchsia hair ball at the end with eyes and a nose. It kind of looks like a bird. A bird from a far away place maybe. Not a bird from around here. The fluffy ball is so soft – soft like my cat. While I think about what to write I like to rub the fluffy ball on my face. I like the way it feels. The fluffy ball seems so alive to me that I start to write stories about it in my diary. I draw a whole family of fluffies. Fluffy balls with faces and hands and feet. The fluffies live in the clouds. They hold hands and play baseball. They have big smiles and no worries. Sometimes I roll out the left-over wallpaper in the basement closet and use the back of it as a canvas. I draw endless scenes of fluffies in the clouds. Sometimes I draw a rainbow or a unicorn, too. I love unicorns almost as much as I love my fluffy pen. I believe in unicorns. I believe they are real. I think someday I will have my very own unicorn. I think I might meet a magic lady that lives in the forest and she will ask me what I want and I will tell her I want a unicorn and she will give one to me. My unicorn can fly. My unicorn is friendly and gentle and my unicorn is white with a golden horn in his forehead. His horn is 24 carat gold like mom’s jewelry. If I had a unicorn, I wouldn’t want anything else. I wouldn’t even need a place to live. We could just ride from place to place and stop and sleep on the clouds when we were tired.

After I fill up my entire pink diary, I ask mom for another one. The next one is blue. It doesn’t have a lock. I don’t like it as much but I fill it up anyway. Then I ask for another and another. I start writing a whole story about a faraway place like dungeons and dragons. There is a wizard in my story and lots of adventures. At night, sometimes Lee comes to my room and sits on my floor and I read him some of my story. He likes it. Sometimes he draws with me on the wallpaper rolls, too.

Sometimes I think our stories and pictures are more real than our real life. I don’t feel anything in the real world when I am writing or drawing. I would like it very much if I could step right into the diary or the drawings and live there. I would like to be a drawing, a 2-dimenison person on paper. I would like that very much.
My favorite thing to do with Lee is to make forts in my room. We take sheets and blankets and pillows and build rooms within my room. The forts are small and we have to crawl on hands and knees to get inside. We can’t stand up or the whole thing will topple down. The space is so small and so safe like a cave where baby animals sleep in the woods. Mom always makes us take them down but we just build them again.

Mom can’t get us to listen to her much. We’re kind of like those trick birthday candles – you keep blowing them out but they keep lighting up again. In the fort, I can touch all four walls from where I sit. I could never do that in my real house. In the fort, the walls, floor and ceiling are all soft. Not like my real house. In my fort, we can use a flashlight for light and there is no big glass chandelier overhead. I love the fort and I could stay in there forever. When you live in a fort, you don’t need many supplies. There’s no kitchen for cooking and no dirty dishes. There are no long hallways to vacuum or beds to be made. There is just a sitting space for talking and laughing and sleeping. That’s it.

Lee and I, we’re like best friends. We do everything at home together. I listen when he plays music on the piano. He plays Barbies with me when I have no one to play with. We’re happier together than we are apart. We fight a lot, too. I’m not sure why but it seems like brothers and sisters are supposed to fight. Maybe we get sick of each other. Maybe we get sick of the house. Maybe we fight because that’s what mom and dad do. I don’t know. But we always make up. Either because mom makes us or because we want to.

Sometimes we gang up and do things to drive mom crazy. It’s really fun. One time, we were hiding in a department store when mom was looking for us. We would’ve never got caught except that Lee knocked over a bookcase and it smashed on the floor. Mom was real mad when they called her name on the loud speaker and she pulled us out of the store by our ears. She said she could never take us anywhere. When we are bad at home, mom makes us sit on the stairs. Lee sits on the back steps and I sit on the front steps. The top of the steps are connected by a long hallway. If we both sit at the top of the steps, we can see each other and continue to make our naughty plans. Lee’s favorite thing to do when he gets in trouble is to ask to go to the bathroom and then go inside the bathroom cupboards and turn everything upside down. This really drives mom crazy. She yells a lot when he does that. She doesn’t ever hit him though. Sometimes she tries to hit me and I swing right back. One time, mom’s fingernail cut me real bad when she grabbed my arm. She was freaked out by the blood so now she doesn’t grab me anymore.

Besides my diary, my next favorite thing in my room is my closet. In my closet, there are beautiful sparkly costumes from all of my dance recitals and beauty pageants. I love sitting on the floor of my closet and looking up at the satin, sequence and bright colors. I think my favorite costume is the one with the purple pants, black and white top, purple hat and silver sequence wrist bands. I think sequence is prettier than diamonds because it sparkles a lot more and you can wear it all over your clothes. I have one leotard that is bright pink with silver and white beads. It’s so pretty. I wore that in a roller skating competition. The one good thing about mom is that she lets me take all the classes I want – dance, skating, painting, singing. I love to take classes. After I go to school all day, I go to classes all night. It makes me happy.

My friend Christine is in my painting class. Sometimes we act silly in the bathroom when we are cleaning our brushes and the teacher Gloria yells at us. We like to laugh but Gloria likes for us to be real serious. One time, Gloria took us on an art trip to a museum in New York City and I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. Christine was fooling around in one of the museum rooms and she accidently kicked off her shoe and it went flying through the air nearly knocking a painting off the wall. Lucky for us, Gloria didn’t see or we would have been in soooo much trouble.

I write about Christine in my diary. I want to remember the stuff we do together. I wonder if I’ll have the diaries forever or if someday they just won’t matter anymore. Grown-ups don’t seem to write diaries. They always seem to busy. I wonder if I’ll be too busy to write when I grow up too. I hope not.